Kozin, Vadim


Vadim Kozin was an amazing Soviet artist. During his life, he experienced peaks of fame, periods of complete oblivion and even imprisonments. By the end of life, he gained recognition and admiration once more. The popularity of this pop singer was tremendous in the 1930-1940’s; the audience adored his unusual quality of voice – the lyrical tenor. In 1939, Vadim Alekseevich Kozin wrote a whole series of songs that he called "The Seasons", and the romance "Autumn" became part of the Russian music history. The romance has no theme; it has only one leitmotif - love.

Vadim Alekseevich was born in St. Petersburg on March 21, 1903. His father, a merchant of the 1st guild, fell in love with Vera Ilijnskaya from the well-known gypsy choral dynasty. Vadim was born in this marriage. He had four younger sisters. The family welcomed Anastasia Vyaltseva, Nadezhda Plevitskaya and Yuri Morfessi - the famous performers of the early 20th century. According to family legend Varvara Panina, a well-known performer of gypsy songs and romances was Vadim’s cousin. Kozin studied only at Gymnasium, he did not studied in any musical institution.

Kozin began his career of pianist of as a tapeur in the People’s House.  He began to sing casually - the singer was ill, and the young man was forced to fill in the pause. His success was overwhelming. In 1931, Vadim was hired as an artist by the concert bureau of the House of Political Education in Leningrad. He sang in the comic choir “Komchoir” directed by A.V. Charov, then began solo performances, sang gypsy songs and romances (“A Wicket Gate”, “Misty Morning”, and “My Bonfire”), works of the Russian composers and his own compositions. Two years later, he was put on the payroll as an artist in Lengorestrada. At the beginning of his solo career, Vadim took the pseudonym “Kholodniy” in memory of the silent films’ era legendary actress Vera Kholodnaya. In the 30’s, when the mention of this name became dangerous, he performed as Varvara Panina grandson, which in reality was not true.

Kozin wrote his first song “Turquoise Rings” in 1929. The famous David Ashkenazi became the singer’s accompanist.

In 1937, Vadim Kozin decided to move to Moscow. His first concert in The Green Theater (the out-of-door theatre) was a huge success. In 1939, together with the composer and poetess Elizaveta Belogorskaya, Vadim wrote the romance “Autumn”, which later became perhaps the most famous work of the performer. No less popular were “Masha”, “Farewell”, “My Gipsy Encampment” and “Friendship”.

The hypnotic power of the singer over the audience”, according to the wording taken from the press of the thirties, consisted of both the unusual quality of voice and the performance style itself, which remained faithful to the old song culture. Before the Great Patriotic War, Gramplasttrest released more than 50 records of Kozin singing.

During the GPW, many of the released records were re-melted for the needs of the front, but the records with the Kozin's songs were stamped “Not subject to re-melting”. The artist himself gave concerts in the army field forces. By order of the People's Commissar of Railways, a special railcar was reserved for his transportation. Kozin sang in sieged Leningrad, in besieged Sevastopol, in front of sailors in Murmansk. During one of the trips to the frontline, he met Marshal Ivan Bagramyan, the later handed Kozin the Order of the Red Star.

The following legend is popular among Kozin’s biographers: in December 1943, during the famous Tehran conference, the British Prime Minister had a birthday party. On this occasion, the best world singers were invited to perform in the concert. Churchill's son assisted to select them. Maurice Chevalier, Marlene Dietrich, and Isabella Kremer sang in this concert in front of the leaders of the Allied Powers. Vadim Kozin was the only Soviet singer that participated in this concert. He was delivered from Moscow for one day only under escort by special plane. They say that Isabella Kremer, a well-known opera singer at that period, managed to whisper to Kozin backstage, “You will have no other case. Come up to Churchill and claim political asylum. You will have everything - freedom and money, the whole world will be yours.”

Vadim Kozhin himself kept a diary throughout his life. His scrupulous notes narrated not only about the intimate secrets of a suffering soul. It was a chronicle of the epoch, interpreted by one of the Soviet stage stars, who was familiar with Vertinsky and Ruslanova, Yesenin and Mayakovsky, Stalin and Beria, Churchill and Roosevelt. The diary was seized from Vadim Kozin during his arrest and returned to the artist only in the early nineties - shortly before his death. After the peak of his fame, he turned out to be a Kolyma prisoner and his songs almost for half a century disappeared from the radio broadcast. The first eight years’ jail term Kozin received in 1945. In 1950, he got ticket of leave for good behavior. Nine years later, he received a new jail term.

After the first release, he remained in Magadan. He did not know how he would be met in Moscow after many years of absence, and he got used to Magadan. Moreover, there his legal oblivion smoothly turned into the illegal half-oblivion. Already being rather old man, the artist came on stage, sat down at the piano and sang “The Pair of Bay Horses” with his clear and soulful voice, and the unimaginable thing was happening in the hall ... Tickets were sold even in the orchestra pit. Until almost the last days, the singer performed at the Magadan Musical Drama Theater. His repertoire totaled over 3000 songs. He himself wrote about 300 songs. Kozin toured to Siberia and the Far East, performed in Kamchatka, Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, Primorye, Yakutia and Kolyma. His songs “Do not frighten me with a bitter fate” (A. Akhmatova), “Only black velvet” (N. Gumilyov), “Do not wake up memories” (K. Balmont), “White snows are coming” (E. Yevtushenko) appeared in the 1960’s. Now they say that thanks to Vadim Kozin, the Regional Theater paid off its debts, and later his concerts brought regular income to Philharmonia as well. A legend exists that in one of the cities where Kozin performed, the famous Moscow theater toured, and then a telegram flew from someone of the theater staff to the Ministry of Culture in Moscow: “... Kozin performs next to us, he beats the whole audience".

Until the end of his life, the singer lived in Magadan, remaining a peculiar landmark of the city and a legendary person. Brass plate with his name written in the Decadent style script was on the door of his Magadan apartment. In 1993, a large delegation of status artists, led by Joseph Kobzon, arrived in Magadan to celebrate the ninetieth anniversary of Vadim Alekseevich. Kozin died in Magadan on December 19, 1994. He was 92 years old. Nowadays a music salon and the singer’s museum are functioning in his apartment.

In 2013, on the 110th anniversary of Vadim Alekseevich birth, a monument was erected in one of the Magadan parks. The sculpture depicts Kozin sitting on a bench in the coat and felt boots, with a cat in his arms, a folder with poems lies next to him.


Felix Chuev. “140 conversations with Molotov”. The second after Stalin. - Moscow: Homeland, 2019. -- S. 591. - 656 p.
“For what the most popular singer in the USSR Vadim Kozin was put to jail”. © Russkaya Semerka russian7.ru
Vadim Kozin “Damned Art” M.: Vagrius. 2005